PREPARING FOR WILDFIRES
  • The Texas A&M Forest Service (TFS) Planning and Preparedness Department works across agency boundaries to enhance the effective implementation of the Texas Wildfire Protection Plan (TWPP). Department staff works collaboratively with other agencies, departments and personnel in planning developing, implementing, supporting and evaluating TFS response capabilities and needs. 
    In conjunction with TFS Predictive Services, planning personnel monitor and determine the needed preparedness level to keep the state safe from wildfire threats. Based on this analysis, resources are mobilized and prepositioned in areas of the state deemed to be at risk. Placement and daily management of resources is coordinated by the Incident Response Department. Availability, qualification determinations, ordering, tracking, mobilization and demobilization of personnel are managed by Planning and Preparedness.

     

    Planning 

    In Texas, even a moderately sized wildfire may involve two to 10 fire departments, numerous pieces of county equipment, local law enforcement, emergency medical service and resources from TFS, Department of Public Safety, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas National Guard, Texas Division of Emergency Management and multiple out-of-state cooperators. To maximize safety and effectiveness, all of these responders need to be organized before the fire starts. 

     

     

    Statewide, a fire season can easily involve hundreds of pieces of equipment and thousands of firefighters. Good planning and preparedness allows for a more effective and faster response, thereby reducing both losses and suppression cost.
    Although primarily focused on wildfire response, these functions must also support the agency’s rolls in the State Emergency Management Plan for all-hazard emergencies such as hurricanes, floods, tornados and other domestic incidents.

     

    Departmental strategies 

    • Analyzing assessment and monitoring data to determine preparedness levels
    • Prepositioning resources based on analysis
    • Maintaining a flexible force structure based on risk and occurrence
    • Involving local, state, federal and contract resources
    • Maintaining readiness of resources 

     

     + Emergency Operations Center (EOC)
    Texas A&M Forest Service (TFS) maintains an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the agency headquarters in College Station to provide statewide situational awareness and strategic oversight and management of all TFS emergency response activities. The EOC continually monitors fire risk, state and local fire occurrence, and the availability and utilization of firefighting resources, equipment and personnel across the state.

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     + Texas Interagency Coordination Center (TICC)
    The Texas Interagency Coordination Center (TICC), located in Lufkin, is a cooperative effort of the Texas A&M Forest Service, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the US Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Texas Parks & Wildlife and the Nature Conservancy. Since opening in 1998, TICC has mobilized more than 60,000 emergency response personnel and hundreds of aircraft and pieces of equipment from all over the United States to support disaster relief efforts in Texas.

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     + Texas Intrastate Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS)
    The Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) Grant Assistance Program provides reimbursement grants to career fire departments and combination fire departments not eligible for grant assistance under the Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program (HB 2604 Program). The program provides $1 million in grant assistance annually, with $800,000 dedicated to TIFMAS vehicles and $200,000 dedicated to all other grant categories.

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     + Aviation

    One of the many tools used to assist in the control of wildfires is the use of airtankers, which are fixed-winged aircraft capable of dropping fire retardant or water on wildfires.

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